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Mid-Course Update on the Wearables Data Revolution

HSS associate scientist Stephen Lyman, PhD is studying the potential advantages that wearable devices could have on your recovery from surgery, Orthopedics This Week reports.

"There are more than one million people annually who undergo hip and knee replacement in this country. Ensuring that we have a complete picture of their surgical recovery is an enormous job—one that can be helped by the emerging technology of wearable sensors and data collection," said Dr. Lyman.

He explained that he was interested in these devices as a way to monitor patient activity after treatment, such as their pain levels or daily steps.

Dr. Lyman studied 150 hip surgeries and 150 knee surgeries, tracking patients' steps for a month before and after surgery.

"My hypothesis is that patients in the group that returned to baseline were walking just a little preoperatively, and doing so in pain. I think the other group, however, included patients who were preoperatively more active, had been limited by their disability, and after surgery could return to their active lifestyles," said Dr. Lyman.

When discussing wearables and physical therapy, Dr. Lyman said that he hopes patients will someday be able to use an app and a wearable device to do physical therapy at home. "These devices have sensors that are much more robust than fitness trackers. They can pick up whether the patient is limping, how much knee flexion they have during the day, whether they are sitting or standing. The study is under IRB [Institutional Review Board] review at the moment and will move forward soon," he said.

Ultimately, Dr. Lyman hopes that wearables will enhance patient outcomes. "Assessing patient outcomes accurately, and on a large scale, is essential to providing the best care we can. Unfortunately, the long-term patient outcome data in orthopedics available today has significant limitations. This is one reason there is such a wide disparity in quality and cost of care for musculoskeletal conditions. For instance, the rate of complications after hip and knee surgery can be more than three times higher for procedures performed at some hospitals than others. Wearables are an important step forward to evaluating the success of orthopedic procedures and improving care."

Read the full article at ryortho.com [subscription required].